A musical Northumbrian Water worker has hit all the right notes with a Middlesbrough children’s charity – raising more than £3,500 for them by playing the saxophone.

Joe Playford, a Sewage Treatment Works operator from Acklam, has been busking around his hometown to raise vital funds for Zoë's Place Baby Hospice in Middlesbrough, since 2017.


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Every Christmas, the 61-year-old, who only picked up the sax as a new hobby in 2013, braves all weathers to sit and play for generous shoppers in Thornaby, in aid of the charity. 


This year, Joe, a grandfather of eight, managed to raise £500 from just four hours busking, taking his total to date to an impressive £3,750.


He said: “I took up the saxophone as a hobby but one Christmas I decided I’d have a go trying my hand at busking and played at the local shopping centre. When I realised how generous people could be, I thought I would do it for charity - I chose Zoë's Place and I’ve gone out every Christmas time for them ever since.


“It really gives me a buzz knowing that I can help this amazing charity, which goes above and beyond to help poorly babies and children in our region.


“I’m also learning some new songs now, instead of just the Christmas songs, so I can escape the cold and head out in summer, and hopefully raise more money!”


Northumbrian Water has supported many local fundraising efforts through its volunteering scheme, Just an Hour, which encourages its employees to donate a minimum of 15 hours of work time every year, supporting community and charitable causes close to their hearts. 


Some of these hours have been dedicated to Zoë's Place, with some Northumbrian Water volunteers helping set up Christmas lights for the hospice’s famous Christmas Lights Switch On, which happens every year.


Ashleigh Rickards, Deputy Head of Care at Zoë's Place Baby Hospice, Middlesbrough said: “We are so immensely grateful for Joe’s continued support.


“Our service provides a lifeline to so many families across the region and especially during these difficult times, we are needed now, more than ever, so we can’t thank Joe enough for all of his support over the years.


“We have been hit hard in the past year and had to close our doors for the first time, so to have Joe’s loyal and continued support really helps us plan and secure our future.”


To find out more information about Zoë's Place Baby Hospice, Middlesbrough and how you can donate, visit: